Where in the world is Barack Obama’s illegal alien aunt, Zeituni Onyango? When last we saw the destitute relative, she was partying on Inauguration Day despite her fugitive status. The deportation evader is set to have yet another day in immigration court. She’s back at her Boston public housing complex, courtesy of the American taxpayer, preparing for the case. The Boston Globe reports:
President Barack Obama’s aunt, a Kenyan immigrant who ignited controversy last year for living in the United States illegally, has returned to her quiet apartment in a Boston public housing project to prepare for an April 1 deportation hearing that will be closed to the public…
…”The case is unusual in American history because it’s a relative of the president involved in immigration matters,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. “It really does present the White House with an opportunity or a minefield. If they follow through on a decision that she should go home, that would actually raise the president’s credibility enormously on immigration enforcement.”
Obama has said that he has not had any involvement in the case and that it should run its ordinary course, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
Onyango’s fate will play out behind closed doors before Judge Leonard Shapiro in Boston. Onyango’s lawyer, Margaret Wong of Ohio, successfully argued to reopen her case in December and have the proceedings closed to the public, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts.
Onyango declined two requests for interviews in recent days, and told a reporter to stop wasting her time.
“I’m not happy,” Onyango said, bundled up in a parka against the spring chill as she went to pick up her mail.
Wong has not responded to repeated requests for comment. But her spokesman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in January that Onyango would present new evidence to back an asylum claim. Onyango has lost several attempts to fight deportation, said immigration court spokeswoman Elaine Komis. In 2003, a judge ordered her to leave the country, and she lost on appeal. She tried again, but an immigration judge ordered her deported in October 2004. Komis would not confirm whether Onyango had sought asylum before now because, she said, asylum cases are confidential.
Shapiro, an immigration judge since 1990, rejected 68 percent of asylum requests from 2002 to 2007, higher than the state and national averages, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Asylum seekers must show that they fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group.
Still, immigration lawyers said she has a chance because she managed to get a hearing.
Asylum fraud is rampant in the deportation system. With help from the Bush administration, Onyango has managed to escape accountability for her prolonged defiance of the law. Her case points up the interminable ways in which deportation fugitives manage to buy time after receiving orders to leave — and create new bites at the judicial apple. If she loses her case, she can appeal directly to Congress for a special relief bill.
You can beef up security on the border, but if a dysfunctional deportation abyss remains in place and if DHS refuses to enforce immigration laws on the interior, it’s more time and money down the drain.